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Migration chief meets Nigerian ambassador

The director of Switzerland's Migration Office travelled to Geneva on Thursday to meet the Nigerian ambassador for an informal discussion on asylum issues.

Alard du Bois-Reymond had irritated Nigerian authorities with remarks about Nigerians making a high number of unjustified asylum requests. The comments were published in a Zurich newspaper on April 11.

Du Bois-Reymond and Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi spoke for one hour. The meeting was organised by the Swiss mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Nearly all Nigerians – more than 99 per cent – are rejected when applying for asylum in Switzerland. Du Bois-Reymond said the applicants are “not coming to seek asylum but to do illegal business”. A large part of the group engages in petty crime and drug dealing, he said. Amnesty International called the remarks “unacceptable”.

The Migration Office plans to establish a task force with federal and cantonal authorities to find ways to send rejected asylum seekers home more quickly. The measures should be ready for review by autumn.

The deportation of a young Nigerian who had been convicted of drug dealing and denied asylum turned tragic last month when the 29-year-old man fell ill and died at Zurich Airport shortly before boarding a special flight to Lagos. He had been on a hunger strike and had to be forcibly restrained.

An autopsy on the man revealed no clues as to the cause of his death. An investigation is underway.

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